Sole Custody of a Child is Difficult to Obtain
In many cases, a parent may believe that there are grounds to argue that the other parent should have no contact with the child or children, and in severe cases, a parent may want the other’s parental rights completely terminated.
Termination of Parental Rights
Termination of parental rights cannot be granted in a divorce, or even by a divorce court. There is no such thing as asking for parental rights to be terminated. Even a parent who may voluntarily want to terminate his or her rights (in order to stop child support payments, or perhaps in a desire to cease fighting with the other spouse) cannot receive such relief from a family law court (absent a simultaneous adoption procedure by another parent).
There are ways that a family court can provide effects similar to termination of rights. For example, a parenting plan must be filled out by the parties during the divorce. That parenting plan can give 100% of the obligations, time sharing and decision making to one party (although that won’t terminate the other parent’s child support payments).
Of course, agreeing to a parenting plan that cuts off so many rights is one thing. Getting a judge to grant it in a contested divorce if the other parent/spouse disagrees is very different. Most judges will not grant such a lopsided agreement absent some very compelling reason, as a court’s job is to foster a child’s healthy and continuing relationship with both parents.
Decision making is different than timesharing. That means that if a court says that one parent will have sole decision making or a parenting plan allows one parent to make all decisions for a child, that parent will continue to have those rights even if and when the child is physically in the custody of the other parent.
This means that if mom has the right to determine what after school activities the child participates in, dad must facilitate and cooperate with the child’s participation in them even when the child is with him, and even if he disagrees with them
Courts can put severe limitations on parenting, where there are concerns for the child’s well being. For example, a court could order that a parent have no overnight visitation, at least for a temporary “probationary” period. A court can also order supervised visitation although this is usually ordered in the most extreme cases.
Remember that should a parent fulfill his or her obligations, be they supervised visitation or visitation that is daytime only, and the child seems to be OK with the situation, there is always the likelihood of having the custody situation modified, to increase that parent’s contact with the child.
Our Tampa family law attorneys at the Pawlowski//Mastrilli Law Group can help you litigate your contested custody case, and explain every step of the process to you. Call us with any questions you may have.